I saw an alligator today and, let’s be real people, I was super excited.
In today’s edition of “I’m in the South,” I’m sunburned and Zayn Malik quit One Direction. Jeez, it’s like becoming a fan of the Beatles in 1968 and Ringo quitting. Seriously? I just jumped into this fandom and you’re quitting? Whatever, at least there’s still fabulous Harry Styles.
Anyway, so, today I did stuff that I’ll blog about tomorrow, but yesterday–yesterday–my friends, I headed to Louisiana. Louisiana: home of the Louisiana Purchase, parishes, the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 (RIP John Bell Hood), and New Orleans. Yes. The Rambling Jour takes on New Orleans.
But any respectable history chick starts a trip to New Orleans with a trip to Chalmette National Battlefield and Cemetery. Here’s what I know about the War of 1812: Andrew Jackson was involved. I can also tell you that Americans won the Battle of New Orleans, which was fought at Chalmette, and had like, 20 casualties whereas the British had around 2400. Also: it took place in 1815, not 1812. Which makes this the bicentennial year! Yes! I bought a sweatshirt.
Of note, you can see me here standing at a house that was not there at the time of the battle. I was still very excited. I was also one of the few people wearing shorts which, again, is another waving, spinning, firework shooting red flag that I’m from Pennsylvania. The weather hit 65 degrees: boom, shorts. I was actually paranoid that all the jacket/sweater/sweatpants wearing visitors knew something I didn’t about the weather. But, whatever. I’m Rick James, bitch.
Anyway, so we walked down the levee (fun fact: when I was in Louisiana in 2008 at the dawn of Hurricane Gustav, we went to a barbecue shack where a band was singing “Hooch” and I wrote my name on the wall while they sang, “Let’s get real, let’s get heavy, ’til the water breaks the levee…”) and to the Chalmette National Cemetery. There are soldiers buried here from the War of 1812 all the way up to Vietnam. There were only four from the War of 1812 and only one of those was actually at the Battle of New Orleans. His name, however, is unknown. There’s around 15,000 buried there (this picture was of my favorite grave marker). Regrettably, it wasn’t until after we’d walked out of the cemetery, did I see the sign noting that there is a female who dressed as a male to fight in the Civil War buried there. Now that’s a stone I would have liked to see!
After leaving Chalmette, we made a left and cruised through the 8th Ward to get to New Orleans. There is the second time I’ve been to the 8th Ward and, although it’s better, there is still visible damage from Hurricane Katrina. They’ve come a long way.
New Orleans! Ahh, New Orleans, you sassy, sassy girl. What’s to say about New Orleans? It’s unlike any other place I’ve ever been. It’s gritty and old and scandalous and amazing. A man wearing a cowboy hat asked me and my cousin Jilly if we were “home grown.” I saw a man with a fabulous beard playing the fiddle. I ate red beans and rice. I used a public restroom in the French Quarter. I was in the French Quarter!
I bought a t-shirt.
There are some amazing, amazing stores in the French Quarter. I wandered into a shop with corsets and short, 50s style dresses. Leather coats. Phenomenal shoes! Another shop had vintage 70s dresses.
I wanted to buy everything. I settled for the t-shirt and the red beans and rice which, not surprising, cost almost as much as the shirt. Jilly got an alligator burger, which took about four decades to cook. I told her it takes time to go out to the bayou and drag it back to the French Quarter. She said whenever she imagined eating alligator, she’d had nightmares of getting a baby alligator on a stick. I told her hopefully the burger didn’t have a face but, if it did, just to ignore the stunned look. Personally, I wanted bayou rabbit which…now that I think about it, might have just been a fancy way to say alligator. Or “crawdad patty.”
I also saw a fist fight in Jackson Square. That was exciting. Jilly said, “I saw him punch that guy!” I think I sorely underestimated how nervous the whole situation should have made me. The Hubs, Army veteran, only looked mildly interested in what was going on and, in fact, most other people standing around hardly looked like they cared. So, I just idly stood around and pondered aloud what to do in this type of situation. Do I film it for Facebook? Do I take my pictures as planned and leave? Do I grab my children and run, tucking and rolling, out of the square and back onto the street I just came from?
In the end, the police showed up, arrested everyone (well, everyone involved, not everyone standing around. Obviously I’m not blogging from jail because this would have been a much more interesting post), I took my pictures and we left. New Orleans!
I love New Orleans, I’ll be honest. Old, grimy, and sometimes really questionable, but still a fab time. Look how happy I look in this picture. You can’t see the grizzled pack of thirty-somethings in dreadlocks that were just to my left. But they were living the dream. Let me tell you!
And now I need to find some aloe for my sunburned feet. I’m pale and Irish-y and now I walk like a crippled leprechaun. More on that tomorrow.